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Archive for April, 2010

BB needs Back Surgery

April 29th, 2010 at 02:34 pm

BB needs back surgery. Major back surgery.

He ruptured 2 disks about 5-6 years ago preparing for spring training and has been gimping along since. He never went in for treatment because no team would take him and the liability of his injury if they suspected they would have to pay for surgery/rehab and maybe disability. So he pretended nothing hurt and downplayed his back injury whenever a team asked about his MRI results.

Now that he is no longer playing, BB went in and had a cartilage shot put in to relieve some of the pain. The shot worked for about 3 days and the pain returned.

This made BB even more sensitive to the pain and now he is almost in agony. He went to a Back Specialist who diagnosed it as Degenerative Disk disease and said there is no option other than surgery. They need to put rods and bungee cords in the back to lift the disks that are crushing each other.

So...this leaves so many questions. BB does not want to get surgery during the baseball season. He is open to the idea of getting it done in the off season but he is very concerned about still getting The Impulsive Purchase renovated in September. I told him to decide what he wants to do with his back and then we will schedule everything around that- but he is still prioritizing The Impulsive Purchase.

I am very confused. I dont know what we should do.
Here are the facts:
If BB gets back surgery- he will be in the hospital for about a month lying flat on his back. The Back Specialist is in FL and that's the guy we would use. He's the Back Specialist for all the baseball teams up and down the east coast. BB's father has offered to come down to FL to be there for BB because his Dad works from home and can work from FL.

I would still be in GA working and use my vacation days to travel to see him. There might be a possibility I could go on some sort of Disability? to care for him? I don't know if that is an option. There is also a possibility I could work from FL because everything I do is through the computer and phone anyways. That would be complicated and I don't think my work would like that idea. More than likely I would have to stay in GA if I wanted to keep my job.

After a month- BB would go through 3-4 months of rehab. He can do that here in GA. He would need to travel flat on his back which would be a little complicated but we could manage. During the 3-4 months BB would not be working obviously. Not a big deal as long as his MLB team renews his coaching contract. His contracts are only a year long. As long as they renew his contract he will continue to get paid year round. If they do not renew it then his paychecks will run out in December and we would have to rely on pitching lesson money- which would be difficult to get since he only had 1 client last year. He was planning to build up his client base this off season- but that wouldn't work out with the surgery.

And now we come to The Impulsive Purchase. We were planning to start renovations in September. That means we would ask the tenants to leave and we would carry the mortgage ourself. BB still wants to do the renovations even if he has back surgery. I don't feel comfortable taking on the additional $1300 a month debt plus $40k renovation debt when he is getting surgery and we don't know how it will turn out. (I forgot to mention that the doctor told BB its a 50/50 chance that the surgery will help relieve his pain.)

We could put off the renovations till after BB is back from Surgery...in October. I just don't really want to take on all of this at once. I don't want to work 40 hrs a week, care for BB and monitor a renovation. And BB knows this- so he is saying that he wants to come home in September to start the renovation. He wants to oversee the project and then get the back surgery. But that's not really enough time for him to complete rehab before the next baseball season starts in February (Assuming his contract will be renewed).

I feel like this is a tricky situation. We are going to have to be delicate in the decisions we make so that we don't get into financial trouble.



For Rent, Parking Tickets & Private Parties

April 25th, 2010 at 06:34 am

I posted an ad on CL for the upstairs apartment last night. The upstairs tenants are moving out May 30th. I still don't see the ad posted though! I know CL has a delay or lag before postings can be seen but this is worrisome. I tried to make a new ad and was flagged for already having a similar posting. grrr...

I went out to a private party last night before going out downtown. A woman a few yrs older than me owns the house we were in and it is directly across the street from a house BB & I looked at when we first moved to this town. The house needed too much work and was overpriced so we passed on it. Huge Victorian that I LOVED in the online listing.

Last night at the party I was thinking about how our life would be if we had bought that house. This woman would have probably become a friend of mine and I would have integrated into her social circle. I was looking around at the guests wondering what life would be like if these people were my friends. I still would have met my current friends (because I was at this party with them) but likely would have been traveling in a separate circle cuz the woman and my friends don't know each other well. I like my current life, I am glad we bought the house we bought and it happened to be next door to a couple our age who are now our good friends. I am glad we integrated into the social circle we are in.

The party last night had a live band jamming in the backyard. The woman's boyfriend is in a band. Kind of fun to be in a small party with a live band rocking out.

After a drink we decided to head downtown and walked back to my car where I found a PARKING TICKET on my car!! $12.00 because it was a street sweeping night. The street was packed and all cars were ticketed. I'm a little annoyed someone would host a party on a night when their guests cant park on one side of the street- but $12.00 is the price of a bar cover charge and 2 drinks...so I have to look at it as an expense that would have been paid if we had seen the same band downtown. I guess.

...and at the end of the night we ended up at a bar charging $10 cover where a band was having a CD release party- but the cover was waived for us as we knew the owner. So it all evens out in the end. I guess.

Baby Names...trend over?

April 17th, 2010 at 04:04 pm

It seems that during the last few years, "Trendy" baby names have been taking over the earth. I am not a mama...but saw "hot" names such as Jordan, Chase, Hayley, Kaylie, Aidan, Ava, and Addison and Madison become as commonplace as the name "Jennifer" or "Christina" was to my generation.

Then in the last few months I have heard of 5 babies being born (thank you Facebook)..and 3 of the 5 were named Elizabeth!! 2 were named Sarah Elizabeth. Traditional spelling and everything. None of that Elyzibyth stuff.

Are traditional names making a comeback? I cant be sure because the other 2 babies were named Lana and Tanza.

The pregnant people in my life are going through a baby girl boom as well. 2 years ago everyone was having a boy. Now its all girls.

Appliances, Savings & Concerts

April 16th, 2010 at 06:14 am

Had a great time last night. The Savannah Music Festival has been hosting bands around the city for the last few weeks but also charging for admission. Last night they hosted a band to play in the “Central Park” of the city and allowed people to spread out blankets, bring food and drinks and listen to the music for free. There were about 3-400 people who came last night. It was a treat. On the financial front- I didn’t spend any money at all even though I spent several hours with friends drinking and eating. Love it when you can bring your own!

I think our refrigerator is on its way out. It sporadically starts making loud noises and then randomly will return back to the normal level of noise that fridges make. 2 friends of mine work in an appliance store so I asked them if they could beat the $300 Lowes deal I found for the upstairs rental unit a few months ago. They couldn’t, but explained that if I tip the fridge onto its back and use a leaf blower to clean the coils underneath- that might fix it. Apparently underneath is where the fridge “breathes” and pet hair/dust/bugs clog it up. The appliance store makes a fortune accepting “non working” fridges and cleaning the coils only to have the fridge last another lifetime and reselling it as a used item. So- tip- clean the coils before you toss a fridge. My friend said to wait an hour or so before plugging it back in once it is rightside up again…this gives the freon time to drain back down into the fridge. I am not so sure I have the strength to go around tipping over fridges and lying them on their back…but we’ll see.BB & I each put $100 a month towards “1st house Expenses” so we have money for a new fridge if we need it.

The kids upstairs are vacating the upstairs rental at the end of May, so I wanted to use the savings to lay down new carpeting and repair plaster, maybe some painting before I rent it out again. I was planning to use just about all the savings for those items…but guess I might need to squeeze out a fridge too!

And in other news…one of my New Years goal was to save up $13,840 towards an eventual renovation of the CA property…whenever the tenant decides to leave that condo…and I am only $1300 short of the goal! I am just gonna keep going at my current savings pace and see how far I can get.

HEL questions

April 12th, 2010 at 07:51 am

First a bit of good news: on my walk yesterday I found 9 pennies! They were scattered in a trail and I thought I was on candid camera- stooping down to pick up a penny, then spying one a few steps away, stooping down again just to see another a few steps away.

Anyways, on to the tricky business:
BB and I want to borrow $40-50k to renovate the Impulsive Purchase. Our contractor quoted us $40k to complete everything we want…but we are already thinking of some other things as well. So somewhere in that range is what we would like to borrow.

In late July we want to hire an engineer/architect to draw up plans for our remodel.

Construction is not set until the 1st week of September, when BB comes home from the season. He plans to be at the site everyday checking on things, learning, and helping out. As of August 1st- we will have owned the property for 6 months.

I want to get a HEL on the Impulsive Purchase. But we only put down 3.5%. The Impulsive Purchase appraised for $15k over purchase price during the sale process…and BB & I bought it because we believe conservatively it is worth $30k over purchase price as it is now. There is 1 good comp (same bedrooms/slightly better kitchen/worse location) listed at $90k over what we paid on the same street now…but it’s been listed for sale for months and no offers.

So…what is the HEL process? I know we pay for an appraiser to come out. Does the property need to appraise as is for higher than we paid for it and we will be able to borrow 80% of the equity? Or would the appraiser account for the remodeling we have plans drawn up to do?

The other possibility is this (I don’t like this possibility):
We take out a HEL on our existing home. The house that I love and never want to leave. This home had 40% equity when we bought it (because we put 40% down)- but the equity shrunk as the housing market declined…but we still have about $62k in equity in it..I am guessing. So that would be enough for The Impulsive Purchase remodel. But I know that in the event that we cannot pay the HEL off…we are putting my beloved dream home in jeopardy.

So I would much rather borrow against The Impulsive Purchase- if possible. Does anyone think it would be possible? Or would I be wasting money for an appraiser to go out to The Impulsive Purchase? Is there another alternative maybe?

…Interest rates on HEL’s tend to be much lower than mortgage interest rates…right? Does anyone know what range they are in these days?

Gardening 102

April 10th, 2010 at 10:34 am

Another picture blog! This time it's of the beautiful flowers that are in bloom. I took my dog for a walk over in Ardsley Park. Ardsley Park is considered Savannah's "first Suburb". It is an area that is all residential, and primarily high end living. I live about a 15 minute walk from Ardsley, and when you are in it- you don't feel the city vibe at all. It's a beautiful escape from the downtown energy.

Below are some examples of the vibrant Azelea bushes that dominate Savannah in April:




My dog:


Crowded out the sidewalk:




Many of the homeowners in Ardsley have their properties enclosed by tall walls...a secret garden type of look. I love some of the garden entrances:


Some pretty little cottage garden houses:





And then there are bigger houses...




There is a yellow viney plant that some of the houses are using. Its not forsyth...its something else. It's very pretty!




Here is a pretty use of the yellow plant and the Azeleas:



And these are some beautiful sidewalks:





This is a cool tree...It's like Hydrangias as a tree?



Heres a beautiful tree with pink rose blooms. I dont know what it is...the tree is very sprawling so it wont work on my property. But I love it.





The flower on the tree:



Another cool tree:



One of the street medians:


A castle house. Looks strange in Ardsley Park...but I am strangely attracted to castle houses.



And Savannah is not complete without Wisteria. I couldnt find a good example of it being used on a house, this will have to do:



Gardening 101

April 9th, 2010 at 08:49 am

Not much happening on the home front. I am still somewhat crazy in my gardening. I didn’t know it- but I love to garden. I know I spent around $3-400 last year on grass seed/plants/annuals/hanging baskets and shrubs. I am determined to spend tops maybe $100 this year.

I look around at my house and I love it. I must admit many of the plants I purchased never made it. My Mandevilla vines were spectacular- but the cold winter killed them, and I was never a fan of where I planted them- so they are gone, and I won’t be replacing them. I guess the winters are too risky in GA for them.

I bought a Lantana bush last year. It was tiny and pretty. Let me tell you they don’t look so pretty in the winter. They lose all their leaves and have dead looking twigs poking out of the ground. And after I bought the Lantana…they came into bloom in GA and they are EVERYWHERE in the wild. They are more like a weed. Why did I buy it? I didn’t know. I won’t be buying anymore Lantanas.

I bought some pretty yellow flowered succulent bushes to line my front walkway. Well- when the yellow flowers fall off you are left with a cactus looking bush- not so pretty. And cactus succulents don’t do so well in rainy Georgia either- they drowned.

And of course I spent a lot of money on annuals. I knew they were going to die but did not care. And they sure were pretty- might spend some money on them this year.

What I bought and lived…well the list is getting longer as I have become a little more educated.
I bought 3 Gardenia shrubs for the front flower bed. It was not until AFTER I bought them that I learned they are VERY difficult to keep alive. Surprisingly they are doing well. I have 1 shrub that has turned quite pale and seems to be on its way out- but I have been a busy mother hen- giving it plant food and lots of water. I am even trying to create acidic water to feed it. I hope it makes it. I don’t know what the problem is- as the other two are great.

I am a Hosta lover. I own 8. They are beautiful and I want to add more. But by September of last year they were quite ratty looking. Something was chewing on them in 1 bed. But the Hostas in the other bed survived the summer with not a single eaten leaf! So I guess the lesson is that all my Hostas need to be in bed #2.

My neighbor and I purchased Jasmine vines to run along the chain link fence dividing our properties. It had previously been overtaken by wild vines and I am still out there weekly trying to get rid of the wild vines and to let the Jasmine grow. Its coming along.

Yesterday I bought 3 pink Gumpo dwarf Azeleas to line my foundation line along one side of my house. 3 is not enough- I need about 4 more. They bloom in June and it will be beautiful! I already have 2 white ones in my front bed so I know their sizing and growth habits. They are warriors. When I bought the house last Feb they were on their last legs. 1 was already dead and had to be tossed. But the other 2 came back beautifully, and now I have a soft spot for them.

And my 2 Camelia bushes. They are my little darlings. I bought them a few weeks ago- so past their flowering season- but I cannot wait for next year. One pink Camellia has thrown up a lot of new growth- I know they are a very slow growing plant but I cannot WAIT for them to be big enough to tower over the Azeleas they are planted next to now.

Anyways, this is not a very great post. Maybe next week I will have some better topics.

Real Estate Saga

April 8th, 2010 at 05:28 pm

Yes I changed my blog colors! The garish pink was getting to me. Made my eyes bleed late at night. This is a softer look...more SPRING!

Anyways....I might or might not (yes I do) know someone buying their first home. I am related to them. So I cannot give advice unless asked- and I know I will not be asked.

Here is the story...it blows my mind, and I could be wrong on the facts. This is all second hand info.

Lets name relative "Becca" (because I like that name). Becca cannot afford to live in her HCOL area and has decided to move to FL where real estate is tanking. Becca and her husband have a good income earning a combined about 80k a year...maybe more.

Becca saw a few houses and put in bids on a few foreclosures/short sales but was outbid. She really wants to take advantage of the $8k tax credit expiring at the end of this month, and interest rates as low as they are now. Because she was outbid on everything, Becca switched realtors.

She found someone who promised she can get a shortsale/foreclosure and close in time to get the credit. Realtor sent Becca online listings and Becca choose a house that she liked. Becca said she wanted to try and purchase it. Becca was told by the realtor that the house would ultimately sell for more than it is listed for- Becca needs to go get preapproved for $15k more if she wants to buy it. Becca goes to the bank to get approved for more.

Becca puts in an offer for $20k more than the list price and waits. and waits. The realtor tells Becca and her family confusing stories of an "Agent" who is in charge of the sale, there is no negotiating with the bank, but the agent..later they learn the agent is actually the realtors husband. The realtor spins it to sound like Becca is going to get a better deal and a faster close because the realtor has a "connection"..then finally Becca's offer is accepted.

A closing date is set, and an inspector must be found to look at the house. The realtor says "the homeowner is a contractor- he can probably inspect it for you. Call him." ...Wrong! Conflict of interest. Becca at least realized this and said- "no". That flew up a red flag for me...I was thinking- "WTH? What realtor would suggest that?"

But something still felt weird for Becca. No earnest money was given. A contract was signed..but something was off.

Finally the REAL story came out. The realtor's husband works at a bank. Before Becca put in her offer (while she was getting preapproved for more money)...the realtor's husband BOUGHT THE FORECLOSED HOUSE for cash. He is now selling the house to Becca for $20k more than he purchased it for! He has not even closed on it yet...he closes on the house the day before Becca closes on it.

And still somehow- Becca and her family are OK with this- they still think they are getting a good deal! They say its because the same house down the street is listed for sale for $20k higher than Becca is paying for her house! So they now know there is a middleman and that they are paying $20k more than he did..but since she can close and get the tax credit, and the house is still underpriced (in her head because of the house down the street listed for $20k higher)...she is going through with the deal!

I don't get it. On so many levels. Forget that most people would say "F it- I'm not paying someone $20k just because they owned a house for 1 day."...forgetting that, what about the ethics of this deal? A realtor took Becca's confidential information (how much money she had, what she could afford, what house she wanted to buy) and used it to her own advantage! She used Becca's trust against Becca! Isnt this fraud?! Isn't this enough to get the realtor fired if not arrested? I thought realtors were required to act on their clients behalf, to work in their clients best interest?! And why is Becca not backing out of the deal so quickly she leaves the realtor cold? Why is she still buying the house? I don't get it. The whole family just accepts it and tells themselves she is still getting a good deal.

If it was me- I would be so angry I would try to get the realtor disbarred from selling real estate. And I would realize that this ass man husband is stuck with a house he does not want in a declining market if I back out of the deal. I would go back and say "I will buy this house- but only for (what he paid for it...or less if I was feeling really angry).

Becca's just continuing with the sale. I am incredulous with her lack of personal judgment but actually don't think the deal will go through. I would think her mortgage company would see the title was held for 1 day before being resold and refuse to do business. Or that the house wont appraise. I hope the whole deal falls through. For Becca's sake.

Please- no one better post that this is common. It is so sleazy I want to throw up.

landloring

April 7th, 2010 at 06:31 am

Ahhh…the first 5 days of the new month have passed. That means…rent collection! And I am thrilled to say all rents have been collected.

This was the first month that the boys upstairs would each be paying an extra $175 a month because their 3rd roommate moved out 2 months ago and used his deposit to pay his next months rent. The boys remembered, and they paid the extra.

This was the first month I would be personally collecting from The Impulsive Purchase. I don’t know the renters styles so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
But the upstairs renter mailed the check as she promised.

The downstairs unit is subsidized by government help…and that check arrived in the mail promptly…but no $194.00 that the tenant was responsible to pay. Yesterday I called her and she was very sweet saying she would give me the money if I came by at 7pm that evening. And she did.

And now all the money has been collected! Whew…that’s a burden off my mind. And let me say it is not a bad life to get all this money coming at you from all directions. I know landlording is not for everyone…but it is definitely for me!

Maybe in 5 years...

April 6th, 2010 at 12:54 pm

BB and I got to spend a few days together this week. I went down to FL for 3 days over the Easter weekend and then he followed me up to Savannah because he is off Mon-Wed due to a break between Spring Training and the regular season.

BB and I went to a barbeque hosted for the minor league coaching staff. It was …different. Many of the coaches are…older. So the party was pretty laid back, the music was not my preference, and there was a lot of watching MLB on the TV (opening day and all). After partying with the players for the last 7 years…partying with the coaches was like aging 15 years. But that’s ok. BB fit right in. He’s always had a mature mindset when it comes to hanging out with people- I think that’s why the coaches all like him.

Anyways- that culture shock moment aside- BB and I had a good conversation last night. We were back here in Savannah and talking about the future. I was talking about how 1 coach tried to caution me that a coaches life is “very hard because they travel so much.” I replied that I will gladly take the traveling over the constant fear of BB getting injured or released that we experienced when he was playing. BB said the coaches feel their career is tough because they only see their families half the year. Many of the coaches played in the Big Leagues so they really don’t need the money. They do it to be a part of the game- or to have a 2nd career because they are in their thirties with no job. But they tend to burn out quickly because living away from your family 6-7 months a year gets old quickly. Especially if you don’t need the money.

A new coach is currently in this exact situation. He and BB get along really well- but the coaches family and kids live in the Mid West and the coach will be living in New England all summer. The guy made close to a million dollars a year for several years...and now he pulls in about a tenth of that. BB is predicting he will last a year or two and is kind of sad about that- since they get along so well.

So this spurred me to ask BB how he is doing without me. We are used to this lifestyle, but I know it still kind of sucks for us both sometimes. BB is doing well, he knows this is his dream job, and he knows this is how it is. BB & I threw out some different scenarios about different teams he could work for that would be closer to home. But that’s a bit unrealistic to expect to be able to hop over to whatever job is the most convenient for you.

We were able to throw some numbers around…and maybe if we keep saving and living as we are now…I might be able to “retire” in 5 years and go back on the road with him. Obviously this is only if nothing happens to us financially between now and then (and something always does come up). But if we save at our present rate and the rentals generate the income we expect- once the construction is finished with The Impulsive Purchase- we might be able to live off his income and put my income into the mortgages. We owe $118k on one house…if I put $25k a year into the mortgage for 5 yrs…we would almost have it paid off. Once that one is paid off- I could “retire” and the rent collected from the other unit would pay about double the mortgage due on it every month. So we could aggressively pay that mortgage off as well while living on BB’s salary alone.

Of course the variable factor is a kid. That’s why I would “retire” in the first place…and why BB would want me on the road with him. So I would not have to put the child in day care and he can see our child more than 5-6 months a year. And it is this “kid” that would likely throw our expenses into havoc and make me unable to retire in 5 yrs. (BB has baby fever…I have to be a bridesmaid in 9 months so I don’t want to get baby fever until after I have to fit into the dress.)

So we’ll see. We have 9 months to play with the numbers before we go into maybe baby land. The cool thing was that during our conversation the money/saving concept really hit home with BB. Like…hit him like a ton of bricks. He said it never even occurred to him that I might be able to quit working because I am always harping on him not to spend money. I am always stressed about how the bills are going to get paid. It’s because I pay us FIRST (and I pay us well) by putting a large chunk into savings every month…and that leaves the budget with little room for error every month. I told him that if we keep living as we are living now, and we do not make any large want based purchases between now and 5 yrs (I see a boat in BB’s want future)…I think the numbers could work. However- it would only work if we do not add anymore monthly bills/ commit large sums of money to a purchase between now and then.

BB understood and said that he likes working towards allowing me to go on the road with him. He wants to live frugally now if that is in his future. He finally understood how strict discipline now will pay off big at a later date. He finished off by saying that the other coaches will be scratching their heads trying to figure out how BB...never got past double A ball can afford to do this when they spent years earning a million or close to it and cant get it done.